Board games are again making strides to become a great way to gather around your friends and family to enjoy quality time with our imaginations. Getting away from the latest new hit TV drama or movies and spending time around the table does not illicit a painful groan from people like it once did. There are some that are still reluctant to exercise their imagination since easier visual stimulation is simply mere inches away in the form of smartphones and tablets. Game Technologies S.A. takes one of these “distractions” and merges it with their latest product, DICE+.
DICE+ is a bluetooth-enabled die that looks like a blank square with some heft to it. Once you turn the die on and the LED lights spring forth exposing the numbers on each of its six sides, you come to realize that this is something special. Syncing the DICE+ up to my Android tablet was easy as setting anything else. Once you download the central hub software simply called Board Games!, you can manage all of the current games out for DICE+ and multitudes of stats on the device itself. Want to know how many times DICE+ was rolled? How about total time played or how many points scored throughout all the games? Using the color of the LED’s can also indicate when you should charge the die, and using the app can give you an exact percentage if you’re more into concrete numbers. There’s even an achievement system for those still into those dopamine drips equivalent to a pat on the back. With all this technology in such a small package, is DICE+ ready to shine? Not yet.
The games that are currently out for DICE+ are great for demoing the die. Backgammon, Chuchumba, Rainbow Jack, and This Way Up are good for a quick session to put DICE+ through its paces. Only Rumble Stumble had lasting appeal after the initial playthrough. Finger Twister is a great way to describe Rumble Stumble. The color and the number after you roll the die determines how many fingers you place on the correct colored tiles. Holding the position until the other player is done with their turn before moving your fingers off the tablet is the challenge depending on how you went about putting your fingers on the tablet. Plenty of times in the beginning I made the mistake of reaching for the die since it rolled off the table near me to hand to the person I was playing with. I tend to be a little forceful when rolling the die.
Solid design saves DICE+ from people like me that are a little overzealous with die when rolling like you’re playing craps. After many of hours of shaking, rattling and rolling, DICE+ still looked brand new. This eases the first impression most will have when they find out that to charge the die, you have to slide back one of the tiles to expose a micro-USB port. Game Technologies has said that careful consideration in the balance of the die so no one side was favored more was taken which, if you take their word at face value, is a relief. Games that rely on rolling a die is not the only thing DICE+ can be utilized for. The built-in accelerometer essentially turns DICE+ into a bluetooth-enabled controller. Developers wanting to add a little something more to traditional style board games or totally go in a different direction and make a motion-controlled game, like Wings on Fire, can do so.
The software is what holds DICE+ back from being something everyone that loves board games should pick up right away for $40. There are plenty of developers besides Game Technologies S.A. that have signed up for making games, but who knows how soon these titles will show up. Until more software is available that goes beyond feeling like a tech demo, DICE+ remains tumbling without a surface to rest upon.